“The way it feels to work around here” or people values are an important part of the values mix and one that will build or destroy your culture. How people feel when they get up in the morning and are preparing for work is crucial to how they perform during the working day. How do you think your staff or colleagues feel when they are in the car, on the bus or train or walking or cycling to work. Are they looking forward to the day, excited about the new challenges it will bring or do they dread walking through the door to find out the mood of their manager that morning?
Values stand at the very core of human decision‐making. When we work in an organisation whose culture aligns with our personal values, we feel liberated. We are able to bring our full selves to work. We not only bring our energy, our creativity, and our enthusiasm, we also bring our commitment to the well‐being of our associates and the success of the organisation. Unleashing this energy is tantamount to liberating the corporate soul.
Richard Barret, The Importance of Values in Building a High Performance Culture
There are many examples of case studies that demonstrate that when an organisation is clear about the way in which they apply their core values to the people they work with, employee satisfaction increases, as does customer satisfaction, fun and profits.
Case Study – ETSY
Etsy’s mission is to re-imagine business in ways that build a more fulfilling and lasting world. This values based mission permeates the company and sustains employees. As the result of being transparent about their values driven mission and work the company, founded in 2005, has a growing community of consumers and sellers. They recycle and compost in all of their offices knowing the exact weight of their weekly recycling and return compost to farms each week. They provide entrepreneurial training to artisans and build the skills and support networks for them and their families. They also give all employees a volunteering allowance of five days a year. The Etsy culture is well known for delivering on promises, doing business in a quick, effective way and is admired or its culture of inclusion and positivity.
Case Study – Capital One
Capital One is one employer that has already attempted a values based culture shift. After the economic crisis, only 26% of its staff felt “fully engaged”, while 30% felt “completely disengaged”. Within four years these figures dramatically improved to 83% and 2% respectively.
It fostered this culture change by introducing a new mission – “Make Lives Better”, encouraging responsible lending and promoting customer service. One employee commented: “‘I truly believe that Capital One lives and breathes its values and that there is a shared, common vision to make lives better. This is not just a slogan that is stuck on a wall for people to occasionally read but is enforced through everything we do…”
Having a written set of values may sound and look good, but if they are not followed up and acted upon throughout the organisation, then employees will feel disengaged
Each organisational value also needs measurable behaviors identifying which behaviors are encouraged, and which not tolerated. Teams or a working party could identify these. They become specific guidelines, or ground rules, for behaviors in your organisation. Some examples include:
- We value and grow the talents of our staff by providing encouragement, support and opportunities for growth and development.
- We each take responsibility for having an annual, agreed development plan, and for achieving that plan.
- When we need help we will ask for it.
- When others make mistakes, we treat it as a learning opportunity for both parties, and do not get into sarcasm or criticism. Only constructive feedback is given.